NEW LENOX – Lincoln-Way Central boys basketball coach Bob Curran was disappointed after a decisive loss to Homewood-Flossmoor on Friday, so he challenged his Knights to put up more of a fight on Monday against Bolingbrook, another formidable opponent.
The Raiders were coming off a successful weekend in Iowa, where they earned a split against two of the state’s best teams.
Bolingbrook used an 8-0 run in the second quarter to take a six-point halftime lead. Then, the tide turned in the second half, as Central outscored the Raiders, 40-29, and led by as many as 11 points with under two minutes remaining before holding off a spirited comeback attempt to capture a 68-63 victory.
“We did not play well at H-F, so my big thing was that we would just come out and be confident since we were really poor with the ball against them,” Curran said. “So it was just about each individual getting better, and I thought they did that. We still had our mistakes, but it was a great experience for these juniors.
“When we’ve played certain teams, guys have been able to get to the basket, but then against H-F and these guys, that’s not their game, they have to cut and move with the ball, and this was night and day better than against H-F. We have seven or eight guys that can honestly get us 20 points if you leave them open. We’ve beaten good teams, so our guys just have to trust what guys in the past have done, and it’s basketball and it can be done.”
The Knights (6-2) moved ahead for good at 46-43 with 48 seconds left in the third quarter on a 3-pointer by Sean Michalak, one of two seniors on a junior-heavy team, who finished with nine points off the bench.
The Raiders (6-3) went 5:39 of the third and fourth quarters without a field goal, and that allowed Central to build a 58-48 lead on a 3-pointer by Joe Barrett. Central made it 61-50 with 2:30 left after a 3-pointer from Matt Maloney, who scored a team-high 19 points for the Knights.
Bolingbrook got eight points in short order from Darius Burford, who led all scorers with 21 points and added six rebounds, to make it 65-63 with 36 seconds left, but Maloney hit free throws down the stretch to help seal the victory.
Central got 17 points from Sean Curran (six rebounds), 10 points from Nick Tingley and six points from James Ogrodnik (six rebounds).
Bolingbrook got 14 points from Kai Evans, 12 points from Isaiah Stafford (six rebounds) and 11 points from Myles Cooper.
“Coach Curran put together an amazing game plan,” Maloney said. “We just executed and played with energy, and when you play like that it’s fun to win. We worked on passing this weekend, and once we got the ball moving we found open guys and scoring. We’re looking forward to our Christmas tournament where we have to play more tough teams. This was a really big confidence booster for us.”